South African scientists and scholars engage with TWAS

South Africa will experience one of the largest-ever influxes to the country of notable scientists and scholars this week when the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosts the meeting and conference of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).

More than 400 delegates and guests from 63 countries will attend the three-yearly General Conference of the TWAS – themed “Science for Africa’s Development” taking place in Durban from 19 to 23 October. For those unable to attend, the conference will be available on the web from 20 October at 11 am as a live stream.

The conference aims to mobilise the scientific community to generate collective, evidence-based solutions to national problems, and to play a critical role in global endeavours to promote science and technology. It is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

TWAS, an autonomous international body, was founded in Italy in 1983 by a distinguished group of scientists from the South. Its aim is to promote scientific excellence and capacity in the region for science-based sustainable development. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, will participate in a symposium on the “Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Research and Education in Developing Countries” with her counterparts from India, Brazil and China.

Six other symposia in which South Africa will feature strongly include “Astronomy in Developing Countries” and “Science and Technology Education for Development”. The programme features distinguished scientists such as Michael Atiyah, who will deliver a lecture titled “Truth and beauty in mathematics and physics”.

ASSAf will at the same time launch The State of Science in South Africa book at the conference. The book reflects on the state of science in South Africa; considers the historical context and the key features that have shaped scientific research in the country and are determining its current trajectories; highlights some of the future challenges and opportunities; and celebrates some of the achievements of South African scientists.

To promote science and careers in science among Grade 10 and 11 learners, TWAS fellows, South African scientists and other role models will meet teachers and learners in Empangeni, Port Shepstone and Durban. This “Meet the Scientists” initiative will be launched as a side event on 24 October by the DST and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). The Conference of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre.